HOW TO LAUNCH A BUSINESS (…WITH YOUR HEAD IN A BUCKET!)
Flashback to November 2017. Four weeks after I discovered I was pregnant with twins – I launched ULO. Perhaps I was crazy to forge ahead knowing that the next year was going to be insane? Did I have the ability to juggle my full-time job as a lawyer, my new mum gig, and launch a brand new business? I had (and still have) no idea, but what the heck, it was worth giving it a go!
ULO represents my love of colour, textiles, design, and is greatly inspired by my years growing up in Nigeria and London. The idea first came to me when my husband and I were preparing for a dinner party, and I was becoming increasingly frustrated that I could not find any decent tableware to jazz up our rather modest second-hand dining table – after all, a true dinner party is not just about the food and wine you serve, but the atmosphere you create, the way in which you welcome guests into your home, and how you present your table. As a proud Nigerian, I LOVE colour! Nigerians love to entertain and welcome people into their homes. We can’t help ourselves. All of these influences are what led me to name the business ‘ULO’ which in Igbo (one of the many Nigerian dialects) means ‘HOME’. As an honorary Melbournian, it was and still is incredibly important that ULO’s production stays right here in Australia, a place that I have been privileged to call home for the past four years.
Last April, I set to work creating ULO – designing the first two tableware collections, sourcing fabrics from Tanzania and Melbourne, learning how to sew (yes, I had no idea how to sew but I knew it was important to understand how and if my products could be made), organizing budgets and finances, recruiting a machinist, and managing the production process. I did this alongside my full-time job in the corporate world – a balancing act to say the least! It was exhausting but WORTH. EVERY. MINUTE.
My original plan was to launch ULO in October, but everything came to a complete stand still thanks to the ‘miracle’ of morning sickness. I pushed ULO’s launch date back by four weeks, and just when I was tempted to wait until the New Year, I remembered that 2017 was my ‘Make or Break Year’. If I didn’t launch ULO that year, it would most likely remain a pipe dream forever. So, with my head in a bucket battling morning sickness, and help from my husband and sister, I launched ULO’s first two dining collections online– the M.O.S and the Souza.
Five months later and here I am - 30 weeks pregnant, just kicking off maternity leave, and frantically trying to get through my never-ending list of things to do for ULO before mama-hood commences. What has inspired me to keep going and continue building a business? Well, I love ULO. I love our products and the concepts we are creating. I am also incredibly excited about the goals we have set for this year. Yes, it will be tricky juggling my business whilst looking after not one but two tiny humans, but I watch (with great awe!) other parents working their butts off to achieve great things, so why can’t I?!
I will continue to share ULO’s journey through the blog and social media so make sure you keep in touch. And in the meantime, why don’t you check out our latest collections!